The California-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has long been dominated by liberal judges, but things are changing with President Donald Trump in office.
With the recent confirmation of two appellate judges by the Republican-controlled Senate — Judges Patrick Bumatay and Lawrence VanDyke — Trump has now successfully appointed roughly one-third of the Ninth Circuit’s members. That’s nine out of the 29 judges, Breitbart reported.
Ideological parity on the Ninth Circuit
In a report on the shifting ideological balance of the Ninth Circuit, Politico noted that the 11-member margin of majority Democrats held in the liberal court at the time Trump entered office has now dwindled to a mere three-member majority.
In other words, in just three years, President Trump — with help from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — has almost achieved a partisan balance to the formerly lopsided court.
That is a massive achievement, particularly in light of how influential this court is. The Ninth Circuit court is the largest, overseeing nine Western states. The San Francisco-based court is also the last stop prior to the Supreme Court and often renders final rulings on legal challenges.
Further, as a direct consequence of the near-parity achieved by Trump on the Ninth Circuit, the tried-and-true liberal tactic of “forum shopping” — seeking out a liberal judge in the Western states whose injunctions and rulings would be upheld by the liberal Ninth — has now become less effective.
Transforming the judiciary
It’s not just happening in the Ninth Circuit. Politico noted that both the Boston-based First Circuit and Philadelphia-based Third Circuit now have Republican-appointed majorities, thanks to Trump’s conservative-leaning appointees.
Tellingly, a recent Vox article fretted over how much success Trump and McConnell have had in reshaping the ideological makeup of the federal judiciary.
Writer Ian Millhiser noted with alarm how well-qualified, reliably conservative and, especially, how young Trump’s judicial nominees are. Their presence on the various federal courts will last for decades, Millhiser noted, wreaking havoc on the progressive agenda, which has relied on liberal courts.
What could Trump achieve with a second term?
All of this has taken place at a much more rapid pace than with any prior president in modern history. There is little disputing the notion that Trump’s transformation of the judiciary will be the longest-lasting and arguably most impactful legacy of his presidency.
Consider also, this has all been accomplished in just three years, in the face of an onslaught of “resistance” to his every move. Imagine what could be done with another term in office.
We could easily be talking about a previously unthinkable Republican majority on the Ninth Circuit, and perhaps even Republican super-majorities on some other circuits and the Supreme Court, if Trump is re-elected and McConnell remains in charge of the Senate after 2020.